Vintage author Laura Cumming wins the James Tait Black Prize for Biography

 

Laura Cummingan art critic for The Observer, won the prestigious award with her biography The Vanishing Man: In Pursuit of Velázquez, published by Vintage, which tells the story of Victorian bookseller John Snare, whose life was transformed after he bought one of the Spanish court artist’s paintings.

The book was “a real gem[…] which fully deserves its place among the winners of this prize”, Jonathan Wild, one of the judges, said.

The James Tait Black Awards were founded in 1919 by Janet Coats, the widow of publisher James Tait Black, to commemorate her husband’s love of good books.

They are distinctive in the way that they are judged - each year more than 400 books are submitted for the Prizes, with the shortlist being nominated by academics and postgraduate students from the University of Edinburgh. Previous winners include Graham GreeneD.H. LawrenceEvelyn Waugh and Ian McEwan.

Two prizes are awarded annually by the University’s School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures for books published during the previous year – one for the best work of fiction and the other for the best biography. The James Tait Black fiction prize was presented to Eimear McBride for The Lesser Bohemians (Faber)

Find out more about the book

Press Enquiries

For more information on this story please get in touch via our media contacts